Kaspersky Lab and Leading Psychologists Provide Guidance on How to Help Victims of Cyberbullying

01 Jun 2015

Cyberbullying, bullying that takes place using digital technology, has become a serious issue. A recent study showed that every fourth child aged between 12 and 17 has experienced cyberbullying in one form or another.* The consequences can be serious: children may become withdrawn and secretive, their schoolwork may suffer and they may become aggressive, depressed or even prone to self-harm.

Although the Internet is a virtual network, not all of its threats can be handled using computer technology alone. Some threats, such as cyberbullying, cannot simply be stopped or prohibited. While children can’t always be shielded from this threat, steps can be taken to raise awareness of the problem and help victims of cyberbullying. Kaspersky Lab has worked with child psychologists from across the globe to put together recommendations for how to support a victim of online bullying.

Lisa Wright, co-founder of anti-cyberbullying educational initiative Webiket, provides the following guidance on how to deal with cyberbullying: “Remember that establishing trust and engaging in a heart-to-heart conversation early on is the first step towards dealing with a cyberbullying situation. An ongoing approach of assessing the situation and devising strategies to deal with both the cyberbullying problem and your child’s emotional state, must follow.”

Recommendations include:

  1. Be supportive and accepting. At this stage, the child needs to hear that no matter what happens, you will be there to support them.
  2. Do not play down the incident. Let the child know that you understand the seriousness of the situation and that their pain is justified.
  3. Genuine empathy is crucial. It is important that the child understands that you feel what they feel. Emphasize that you are there to listen.
  4. Let the child take the lead and tell you about the situation in their own words. It is important that they offload this burden themselves.

Summarizing the guidelines, Caron Mullen, MSc, Cyber Psychologist stated: “Cyberbullying is a complex issue that requires a multi-faceted approach. A strategy to support the child's emotional state is very important. In the short-term, there are practical tips to help a child through the worst moments in a positive way without resorting to actions that may exacerbate the problem. The long-term objective is to help build the child's resilience, enabling them to cope with problematic social experiences without psychological harm. But the first and most important step is for the parent to gain the child's trust so the burden can be shared, and together, they can work on developing a plan of action to deal with the situation."

While discussing the problem, Alexander Erofeev, Chief Marketing Officer at Kaspersky Lab said, "Words – sincere words of love and support – can help. This is the main point that we want to make in our fight against cyberbullying. And this is not just our opinion: it is shared by many psychologists worldwide who are involved in our campaign. Cyberbullying exists wherever there is Internet access – and this means no less than the entire globe. So, we want parents across the world to know how to properly handle this problem."

As part of the campaign against cyberbullying, Kaspersky Lab has launched a new interactive portal Words Can Save that contains information about the issue and guides parents through indirect signs of cyberbullying in their children. The portal helps parents understand how important it is to be close to children and support them with the right words.

*Source: NetChildrenGoMobile statistics